EU workers losing time over email

14 Jun 2007

Email is a complete waste of time, 3.5 years to be exact, according to a recent study commissioned by communications headsets providers Plantronics.

European workers spend approximately 3.5 years of their lives sending and receiving irrelevant email, claims a survey of over 180 senior managers, conducted by the Henley Management College.

The survey found that managers are spending on average two hours per day tackling their inbox, which works out as 10 years spent emailing in the course of their work life.

And the inbox looks set to expand, with every message sent generating an electronic paper trail of approximately four to six extra emails.

When questioned about the volume of emails passing through an office every day, 43pc of managers said that they felt only 10pc of messages they sent actually served its purpose.

Emailing was also found to have anti-social implications in the workplace, serving to lessen interaction between employees, while phone calls were found to be relationship building.

This practice seems to be mostly unique in Western culture as it is considered rude in a Japanese business environment to transact business via email. Dinner meetings and phone contact are preferred to build up a relationship first.

Although time constraints often mean that multitasking is required, leaving the phone unused, the study found that switching to wireless headsets increased work-related productivity by 23pc.

Philip Vanhoutte, European managing director of Plantronics, said: “Our results show that the phone is used as a secondary communication tool and email the first, despite the negative impact it has on employee productivity, wellbeing and the company’s bottom line.

“Managers need to encourage greater use of the telephone and teach people how to effectively use a range of information communications technology products to support decision making, networking and increase workers flexibility.”

By Marie Boran